Student Union Building
PO Box 444264
Moscow, ID 83844-4264
1031 N. Academic Way,
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
President Ming-Jen Lee
One of Ming-Jen Lee’s more picturesque memories of his time at the University of Idaho includes using dynamite to blow up stumps on Moscow Mountain.
“I worked with a research crew led by Dr. Art Partridge studying bark beetles in pine trees,” recalled Lee, who earned his doctoral degree in forest science. “We had to dig out the root, and easiest way was to blow it out. We used dynamite to blow up the stump and collect the samples.”
While it makes for a good story, that episode wasn’t necessarily among the most important lessons he learned at Idaho.
“I wanted to be a forester at that time,” said Lee. “But, everything I learned at Idaho helped me to gain a broader vision that I could merge into other fields, like education and administration. At the University of Idaho, education is quite diverse and I learned how to respect people, how to communicate with people and how to cooperate with people. That made me successful in my career.”
A native of Taiwan, Lee returned home with his Idaho doctoral degree and took a position as an associate professor of forestry at National Chiayi University. In 2005, he became president of the university. His experience at Idaho greatly influenced his vision for higher education in Taiwan.
“In the last decade, we’ve changed quite a lot and have learned from the American educational system, to evaluate the education at different universities,” said Lee. We learned the accreditation system and to push forward and elevate the quality of the universities. We emphasize the research, teaching and service. We also put an emphasis on international cooperation and also the service learning system.”
After assuming the presidency, Lee began a push to increase the international experience on his campus.
“When I took the presidency, we only had three foreign students, and now we had 56 and next year we’ll go up to 80,” he said. “It’s a great improvement.”
National Chiayi University now has student and faculty exchange programs with universities around the world including France, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.
It’s not surprising that Lee’s alma mater in included in the exchange program. Two groups of College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students have traveled to Taiwan for study visits, and two groups of aquatic bioscience students from National Chiayi University have visited Idaho to study at the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station.
“I cannot say enough about President Lee’s enthusiasm, graciousness, hospitality and willingness to work with us to broaden the cultural horizons for all involved,” said John Foltz, associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
In recognition of President Lee’s distinguished record of achievement and service, the Alumni Association has presented him with its Silver and Gold Award.
“President Lee joins a group of approximately 100 of our most influential alumni who have received this award,” said Steve Johnson, executive director of the Alumni Association. “He has brought honor and recognition to the University of Idaho and truly demonstrates our legacy of leading.”
“I really appreciate my alma mater,” said Lee. “The training, the education, the friendship – for all these I have heartfelt thanks.”
He added: “I think the University of Idaho really contributes so much to the global community. You trained a young person like me 34 years ago – I was a poor kid at that time – and after the training and education, I went back to my country and served the people and contributed a little bit to improve the lives of people in Taiwan. In the global sense, that’s a big achievement of the University of Idaho.”